5-7 mins

Sustainability at Annual Conference 2023

Find out the plans we're implementing to become sustainable at our largest event of the year - annual conference.
5-7 mins
Going hybrid
Sustainability is one of our core values and a priority in our new strategy. So we’re excited to share details of how our flagship event puts sustainability at the core of its delivery plan. We’ll ensure Annual Conference is meeting all our members key educational and networking needs whilst also future-proofing the event by being as sustainable as possible.

In 2022, we held our first hybrid conference which was a huge success, allowing two-thirds of our audience to meet in Glasgow and take advantage of all in-person learning and networking benefits. The remaining participants were able to engage in all the live sessions from the comfort of their homes.

Additionally, we were able to calculate* that by going hybrid we have reduced the carbon footprint of the annual conference by 16%. Despite the significant additional costs involved, we have made the commitment to keep Annual Conference hybrid, in comparison to similar associations who are going back to traditional conferences.

*with the support of an events carbon measuring company.

Reducing waste
We're reducing waste by taking advantage of digital signage and investing in a user-friendly intuitive event app, the programme, posters and exhibitor stand materials are now kept digital, reducing paper and shipment-related carbon emissions. This means a reduction of waste-related carbon by 5.5 tons of CO2e compared with our 2019 event.
Regulations for exhibitors and sponsors
We're committed to working closely with our exhibitors and sponsors to ensure the exhibition and associated build are as environmentally friendly as possible. For the first time this year, we're enforcing sustainability regulations for the exhibition. This includes the prohibition of construction of any stand components from single-use materials such as MDF, non-recycled carpet, vinyl flooring and specifying timber from sustainably managed forests.

Additionally, all stand contractors are required to submit a sustainability plan covering areas including the lifecycle of the stand, packing materials, transport of stand materials and builders.

Many of our sponsors are fully committed to improving in this area and initial sustainability plans include measuring the carbon footprint of their individual stands, working with local contractors to avoid travel, packing stands with reusable materials such as blankets and committing to repurpose all stand materials for future events.
Choosing the right suppliers
When choosing suppliers for the conference, we will always prioritise local suppliers to reduce travel emissions. Where this is not possible, we engage in candid conversations outlining our sustainability goals. Challenging our suppliers in this way enables them to come up with solutions such as transporting all materials on one single truck and using electric vehicles.

Our conference app supplier, Swapcard, has recently switched to more energy-efficient processors, meaning they use 60% less energy.

One of our most significant suppliers is our venue. We select venues that not only deliver great events but also support us in our commitment to the environment. After hosting #BSR22 at the COP26 venue our 2023 venue had to be equally ambitious.

Manchester Central is triple ISO certified, including the ISO 14001 standard in environmental management, a voluntary external accreditation providing a framework for managing environmental responsibilities. They also pledge to the Zero Carbon Manchester, Net Zero Carbon Events and Plastic Free GM initiatives.

This is demonstrated in some of the below schemes:

  • Manchester Central is the host site for the Civic Quarter Heat Network, which generates low-carbon heat and power for the city, helping Manchester to reach its ambition to be carbon-neutral by 2038. The network will generate a highly efficient, environmentally friendly heat and power solution, serving six of the city’s most iconic buildings.
  • They have invested in electric vehicle charging points, smart metres for effective energy monitoring, dimmable LED lighting and passive infrared sensors to reduce electricity usage.
  • Manchester Central strives to reduce the carbon footprint of catering by donating leftover packaged foods to local charities and reducing food miles and supporting the local economy by using suppliers no more than 50 miles away.
  • They are committed to reducing the environmental impact of their services by Investing in a venue waste management recycling centre, diverting all waste from landfill and replacing single-use plastics with compostable alternatives.
Manchester - greener travel
As well as a venue that packs a punch in terms of its commitment to sustainability, the destination itself is an important factor for the event. With three central train stations, linking direct trains across the country, Manchester's integrated travel network means it's one of the most accessible cities in the UK.

Here are some of the ways that Manchester is helping delegates have a greener stay in the city:

  • A free ‘hop on, hop off’ bus service linking all of the main rail stations, shopping districts, hotels, and conference venues
  • Cycle hire stations dotted throughout the city ensure that people are never more than a five-minute walk from a bicycle
  • Hotels with Green Tourism Awards or other sustainability pledges as part of the BSR delegate accommodation block
How you can help
  • Plan your journey by public transport – both to get to Manchester and also to navigate around the city. It’s a walkable city with plenty of renewable energy-powered trams and buses (some of them even free) so ditch the taxi at #BSR23.
  • If public transport is just not possible why not see if you can carshare with colleagues?
  • Create your personal travel plan today and find out the most sustainable way to get to us.
  • Bring your refillable bottle – BSR will ensure water refill points in the venue.
  • Expect the conference to change – food waste is a huge problem at events and a surplus of all options is no longer possible. There will always be food available for delegates but it’s possible popular choices will run out.
  • Research hotels, restaurants and local businesses that are going the extra mile for sustainability. Pick a hotel with a sustainability accreditation or choose restaurants that use local, seasonal ingredients. You have the buying power to create positive change.